This past week, Ogeechee Technical College president Dr. Dawn Cartee announced an articulation agreement between Ogeechee Tech and the University of South Carolina at Beaufort.
Now, OTC graduates will be able to transfer their OTC associate degree class credits to USC Beaufort, and not have to repeat those core classes when they attend the university to pursue a bachelors degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management.
I think it is a very good thing that OTC grads have this option to further their education, but the fact remains that the student would not be able to use the HOPE scholarship program, and it would be out-of -state tuition for Bulloch County residents that choose to attend the university until they are able to establish residency in South Carolina, Bryan, Chatham, or Effingham Counties.
That prompted me to ask Cartee about the options her students had in attending a local university or college under the same scenario.
"Right now, we don't have a formal agreement with any other institution," she said. "It is a top priority of mine, and something I have been working on for some time. Unfortunately, as it stands, if one our students enrolled in Georgia Southern, for example, after receiving a degree from OTC, they would have to repeat those core classes in math, science, English, etc."
Cartee said it becomes a huge financial burden. "HOPE pays for tuition at OTC just like it does for any college or university in Georgia," she said. "But as you know, it is limited to a certain number of course hours. If you have to take your core courses twice, you will run out of HOPE well before you finish your four-year degree."
Cartee said she feels very strongly that students need to have options, particularly with the uncertainty in today's job market, and in the economy in general. "We are all here to serve students, people that come to get an education so that they become productive citizens and support themselves and their families," she said. "We are blessed in that there are a number of educational opportunities in addition to OTC in this area from Georgia Southern to East Georgia College, as well as Armstrong and Savannah State. I just want us all to work together with the student's best interest in mind."
I asked Cartee if accreditation was an issue preventing local colleges and universities from accepting technical college credit hours if a student enrolls in that school. "No, there isn't based on the guidelines and regulations that have been provided to me," she said. "In fact, schools in our surrounding states readily accept the transfer of credits from technical colleges. That is where I want us to be."
Ogeechee Tech is going through the process of receiving accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the organization responsible for accrediting colleges and universities in the South. "We will be submitting our candidacy for accreditation in November 2011, and hope to receive our accreditation in 2013," she said. "At that point, there should not be an issue with course transfer. But until that time, I am going to continue to work with our surrounding colleges and universities to create avenues for people to receive credit for the education that they have."
Cartee estimates that ten percent of OTC graduates enroll in a four-year degree program. Cartee said next quarter's enrollment should eclipse 3,000 students, and the college will be converting to a semester calendar from a quarterly calendar in fall 2011.